Y Combinator founder Paul Graham just gave another great interview to Bloomberg TV. As we said the last time Paul Graham gave a great interview, he’s both smart and witty, which always makes these worth watching. Also this time he wore a blue fleece instead of an orange fleece.
Our takeaways (some quotes are paraphrased):
- The last Y Combinator batch had more applications than ever: more than 2000. They picked 64 startups.
- How to succeed at startups? “You have to make something that actually makes people’s lives better.” Success is like the area of a rectangle, with one side being how many people use your product and the other side how much you improve their lives.
- On Y Combinator portfolio companies: Dropbox is actually more valuable than Airbnb. Graham almost-confirmed Airbnb’s reported $1 billion funding round, talking about it as a done deal and then remembering that it hasn’t been confirmed.
- On competition: Don’t worry about it. Seriously: don’t. “You’re a mosquito … you just zoom along and don’t spend your time looking over your shoulder. If you get killed, just do another startup.” “I don’t get the impression that Dropbox is worried about iCloud; I’m not worried about it.” “We only had one company get killed by a competitor.” (Kiko, a calendaring startup that got crushed by Google Calendar; the founders went on to do Justin.tv. We’d add that it seems to be just a matter of time for Posterous.)
- What actually kills startups isn’t competition, it’s the back button. If your product is something that users see and go “Meh,” that will kill you. It’s not Apple or Google going after you.
- When asked about TechStars, Graham audibly sighed. What does he think about them? “I don’t know… I think they’re fine people.”
- On Hipmunk, a YC travel search startup: The Managing Editor of Bloomberg West thinks Hipmunk is so ridiculous he’s banned it. What? (Hipmunk wants to be a more user-friendly Kayak, and it pretty much is.)
- Online, people make more money from hotel search than flight search. Flight search is basically a way to get people to book hotels. Interesting.
- The biggest trend Graham sees? “One big thing that’s happening now is startups competing in industries that people didn’t really think were susceptible to competition by startups before.” So for example, Airbnb competes with the hotel industry. Hotels probably didn’t think the internet would compete directly with them. And yet, it is. “More and more of the world is becoming susceptible to startups.”
Sadly, Bloomberg has disabled embedding. You can watch the video here →
Don’t Miss: Paul Graham’s Last Great Interview →
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